Four more steps on vocational route

30th January 2009 at 00:00

There is much to commend the six steps proposed by Edge, the education charity, to develop a vocational pathway ("Pupils need more access to vocational expertise", FE Focus, January 23). But at least four extra steps will be necessary to develop Edge's laudable vision.

The seventh step is a funding system that enables all 14-year-olds who want to study at FE colleges to do so by ensuring colleges receive comparable funding to secondary schools for comparable 14-15 provision, and comparable funding to school sixth forms for 16-19 provision. The answer is a single 14-19 funding system rather than 5-15 and 16-18 funding systems.

The eighth step is the revolutionary idea that 14-year-olds might be able to study full-time at FE colleges. This is surely a "must" debate issue in the context of the Children, Skills and Learning Bill.

The ninth step is a vocational pathway into part-time higher education by age 20.

Even supporters of the vocational route fail to differentiate the appeal to 18 and 19-year-olds from progressing from a vocational level 3 programme, such as advanced diplomas and advanced apprenticeships, to a job and part-time higher education rather than another three years of full-time HE.

A tenth step, however, is needed. Fiscal incentives to employers and 18 to 20-year-olds must be available to cover fees, financial support costs and time off for study to facilitate progression from a vocational level 3 at 18 or 19 to a vocational sub-degree on a part-time basis by the age of 19 or 20.

Mark Corney, Policy consultant, MC Consultancy.

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